Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Margaret Thatcher and the Death of Feminism

by Bruce S. Thornton


The death of Margaret Thatcher will no doubt generate much deserved recognition and discussion of her historical significance. She was, after all, the most consequential British Prime Minister in the post-war period, eclipsed only by Winston Churchill as the greatest British leader of the 20th century. She reversed England’s economic and cultural decline hastened by socialist delusions, and she was instrumental in backing Ronald Reagan when he shoved the USSR into the dustbin of history. But her passing puts me in mind of another death––the ideology we call feminism.

Feminism, of course, has been dead for decades. But like most progressive ideology, it continues a zombie-like existence, stumbling around the universities, popular culture, and the media, devouring the brains of the stupid or badly educated. What passes for feminism today has nothing to do with the original aims of equity feminism, which focused on removing the remaining barriers that kept some women from taking control over their lives and enjoying the personal autonomy––and responsibility–– that is the foundation of liberal democracy. That aim was achieved pretty quickly, with the result that today as a whole women are better educated, healthier, and longer living than men.

The feminism that has burrowed into the women’s studies caves in colleges and universities is something else: a species of progressive identity politics predicated on perpetual victimhood as a means for extorting more social and political clout. As such it represents a narrow spectrum of women across the world, those privileged enough to take for granted the improvements in science and technology, the economic growth created by capitalism, and the access to education that have liberated women from the tyranny of nature and the oppression of illiberal cultures. These so-called feminists, the richest and most comfortable women who ever walked the earth, have created a new-age cult focused on wacky fads like Wicca or romantic environmentalism, issues of concern only to the well-fed who have the luxury of taking seriously such claptrap. And like most cults, it is humorless, intolerant, conformist, illiberal, and lustful for the power needed to indulge the totalitarian impulse to silence the infidels and impose orthodoxy. In their gospel, the only “choices” women have are to abort babies, hate men, despise conservative or religious women, and incessantly bite the liberal-capitalist hand that feeds them.

So what has all that to do with Margaret Thatcher? In any morally coherent and intellectually honest world, Thatcher would be a major feminist hero. She was not born to upper-class Ox-Bridge privilege, but had to make her way in a man’s world and succeed not by dint of family or school connections, or by special consideration or reserved slots based on her sex, but by brains, drive, and hard work. Compared to her, feminist hero Hillary Clinton is a rebooted version of a Mad-Men haute bourgeois housewife whose success comes not from her own achievements, but from her connection to and dependence on a politically talented man who ended up President, a man who humiliated her publicly with his juvenile, sordid philandering that reinforced every stereotype of the loyal mate who sacrifices herself on the altar of her husband’s career.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for institutional feminists to celebrate the life and achievements of one of the greatest women of the 20th century. They’d rather worship the creepy Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and its abortion mills, the racist eugenicist quite happy to sweep away millions of inferior people in order to create her vision of utopia. But Thatcher is just the latest example of truly feminist heroes ignored or vilified by the self-styled champions of women’s rights and lives. How is Sarah Palin, a self-made, independent, bear-hunting, successful-in-a-man’s world woman not a feminist hero? Because she chose to raise a Down’s syndrome child instead of killing him, thus defiling the feminist sacrament of abortion

Or what feminists have praised and defended Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the brave Somali woman who cast off the shackles of a misogynist, patriarchal Islamic faith, and put her life on the line to do so? In fact, where have the feminists been the last ten years, when the West has been battling the same illiberal oppressive religion that justifies polygamy, misogyny, and genital mutilation? By invading Afghanistan, George Bush liberated more truly suffering and oppressed women than all the Women’s Studies courses, seminars, books, speeches, sit-ins, demonstrations, and articles put together. Yet the progressive ideology and multicultural delusions that define feminism required Bush to be the villain and warmonger of cartoonish leftism, no matter how many Afghan women benefitted from his war.

The silence of feminism, with some few exceptions, on the oppressive theology of Islam is exhibit number one in the corruption of liberal equity feminism by grievance politics, cultural relativism, and illiberal progressive ideology. While feminist professors and journalists wax hysterical over trivial or even illusory slights against women — Obama complimenting a beautiful state Attorney General, or ex-Harvard president Larry Summers speculating that there just might be inherent differences in men and women when it comes to physics and math — millions of Muslim women across the globe are subject to honor killings, mutilation, polygamy, and sexual abuse by men just because they wanted some say over their lives. But drunk on multiculturalism, these feminists are silent, preferring to attack a Western culture that has made them free and independent, rather than confront the biggest, most lethal misogynist institution on the planet.

So let’s celebrate the life of the true feminist hero Margaret Thatcher, and leave the zombie poseurs to squabble over sexist pronouns and suffixes.

©2013 Bruce S. Thornton

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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

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